- From the Editor:
- Statement of the Bishop Participants in the 23rd Korean–Japanese Bishops' Colloquium
- Message for 2017 Biblical Week(November 26 – December 2, 2017)
- Message for the 34th Caritas Sunday
- Message for the 17th Week for the Sanctification of the Family(Summary)
- Message for the 36th Human Rights Sunday and the 7th Social Doctrine Week (Summary)
- 2018 Pastoral Letters of the Diocesan Bishops
- The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
From the Editor:
A Sense of Collective Responsibility for Tragic Accidents
Recently Korean Society has gone through a series of disasters such as earthquakes, fires and the sinking of fishing boats. These have resulted in a large number of casualties. Who is responsible for these tragic accidents? They are consequences of deep-rooted structural problems in our society.
A seemingly insignificant mistake made as a result of someone’s carelessness may have catastrophic consequences for many. An individual's imprudent choice or action may well have a devastating impact on the entire nation. This knock-on effect can also be the case of an unqualified person elected from a national election.
Therefore, each one of us should have a sense of responsibility in all aspects of the society whether he or she is directly related to them or not. Korean society is going through a turbulent time: it is facing political, economical, social, and cultural challenges which may bring about serious conflicts and divisions. There is nothing to be gained by blaming each other in such a difficult situation. Instead of playing the blame game, we should feel a collective sense of responsibility for the current series of crises.
Our society has been divided and afflicted by geographical, ideological and religious differences. We constantly avoid taking responsibility by blaming others. It is our hope that one day we will resolve our discord and disunity. So as to fulfill this hope, it is important that the faithful understand the divine message hidden in the current difficulties facing our country. Hence we may change ourselves in accordance with God’s will.
When innocent people become the victims of fatal accidents, it is all too easy to cry out to God: “why do You take the lives of innocent people instead of guilty ones?” However, we need to try to discover the hidden message lying beneath tragic accidents.
Through misfortunes God may strike down the darkness of our society, such as, dishonesty, disloyalty, and irresponsibility. Innocent lives have been sacrificed on behalf of this faithless generation. However, ultimately it is us, together, who are responsible for the majority of misfortunes, because of our failure to counteract injustices. Facing these challenging times, each individual should feel a sense of responsibility and strive for the conversion of this generation. Our unremitting efforts in themselves can be a part of our purification.
In this sense, Catholics should consider our social predicament as part of a process leading towards purification. In order to renew ourselves, we must pool all of our strength so as to overcome the difficulties of these times. So as to bring this about, we also should encourage others to work together with us hand-in-hand.
Fr. Thomas Aquinas Kim Joon Chul
Executive Secretary of the CBCK
Statement of the Bishop Participants in the 23rd Korean-Japanese Bishops’ Colloquium
Hope for Peace in Northeast Asia
The Korean and Japanese Catholic Bishops have held annual meetings for 23 years to reflect on the heartbreaking history of two countries and to move forward together in a bright future full of justice and peace, and have made various exchanges of reflection and dialogue about the challenges of the times. There have been various kinds of material and human exchanges between our two countries throughout the history. Through the constant interaction two countries have deepened the relationship, sharing in economic and cultural aspects in the globalized world, which can contribute to the peace of the Northeast Asia.
The current situation of the Northeast Asia is very worrisome. The Northeast Asian countries are seeking stability and prosperity built on their military power by cooperating or forming alliances with other major powers of the same political system. This creates threats to the security of each nation and is causing tension today. We the Bishops of Korea and Japan wish to express our sincere hope for peace in the Northeast Asia.
God urges us to unroot our evil practices of solving conflicts with resort to war. All of us should realize that a true peace cannot be guaranteed by nuclear armaments or militarization. Instead, such an attempt only increases risk of war. We would like to emphasize the principle declared by St. John XXIII: “true and lasting peace among nations cannot consist in the possession of an equal supply of armaments but only in mutual trust” (Pacem in Terris, n.113). Moreover, people in both countries should remember the fact that the poor and environment continue to suffer while the astronomical sums of money are spent on armaments. For the sake of God and the whole humanity, everybody, especially the authorities of the nations and military, must feel responsible for peace throughout the world and pool all of their strength with one accord to establish peace through dialogue.
Violence is a foolish method which undermines human dignity and brings disaster to all humanity. Man can overcome any type of violence in solidarity with each other based on trust and love for all human beings. We, the Korean and Japanese bishops, pledge to be committed to building peace by actively living the fraternal love, putting our trust in God not in military power.
November 16, 2017
Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier, Kagoshima
+ Andrew Cardinal YEOM Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul
+ Hyginus KIM Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju
+ Thaddeus CHO Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu
+ Michael PAK Jeong-il, Bishop Emeritus of Masan
+ Peter KANG U-il, Bishop of Cheju
+ John CHANG Yik, Bishop Emeritus of Chunchon
+ Gabriel CHANG Bong-hun, Bishop of Cheongju
+ Peter LEE Ki-heon, Bishop of Uijeongbu
+ John Chrysostom KWON Hyeok-ju, Bishop of Andong
+ Matthias RI Iong-hoon, Bishop of Suwon
+ Lazzaro YOU Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon
+ Basil CHO Kyu-man, Bishop of Wonju
+ John Baptist JUNG Shin-chul, Bishop of Incheon
+ John KIM Son-Tae, Bishop of Jeonju
+ Pius MOON Chang-woo, Coadjutor bishop of Cheju
+ Simon OK Hyun-jin, Auxiliary Bishop of Gwangju
+ Timothy YU Gyoung Chon, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
+ Benedictus SON Hee-Song, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul
+ John Bosco CHANG Shin-ho, Auxiliary Bishop of Daegu
+ Job KOO Yobi, Auxiliary bishop of Seoul
+ Blasio PARK Hyun-dong, O.S.B., Apostolic Administrator of Territorial Abbacy of Tokwon
+ Joseph TAKAMI Mitsuaki, S.S., Archbishop of Nagasaki
+ Thomas Aq. MAEDA Manyo, Archbishop of Osaka
+ Peter OKADA Takeo, Archbishop Emeritus of Tokyo and the Apostolic Administrator of Saitama
+ Tarcisio KIKUCHI Isao, S.V.D., Archbishop-elect of Tokyo & Bishop of Niigata
+ Berard OSHIKAWA Toshio, O.F.M.Conv., Bishop of Naha
+ Paul OTSUKA Yoshinao, Bishop of Kyoto
+ Raphael UMEMURA Masahiro, Bishop of Yokohama
+ Michael MATSUURA Goro, Bishop of Nagoya
+ Dominic MIYAHARA Ryoji, Bishop of Fukuoka
+ Paul KORIYAMA Kenjiro, Bishop of Kagoshima
+ Martin HIRAGA Tetsuo, Bishop of Sendai
+ John Ap. SUWA Eijiro, Bishop of Takamatsu
+ Paul HAMAGUCHI Sueo, Bishop of Oita
+ Bernard KATSUYA Taiji, Bishop of Sapporo
+ Alexis SHIRAHAMA Mitsuru, Bishop of Hiroshima
Message for 2017 Biblical Week (November 26 – December 2, 2017)
“The Word Became Flesh and Made His Dwelling Among Us” (Jn 1,14)
Dear brothers and sisters,
I hope you have enjoyed this year with the Lord who lives in and works through us. On this occasion of Biblical Week, we give thanks and praise to the Lord. The Word was made flesh and dwells in the midst of our lives and activities; the word of Life nourishes us, giving love and hope.
This year, important decisions were made in the area of the Biblical Apostolate. At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis suggested the creation of a Day of the Word of God because he thought “it would be beneficial if every Christian community, on one Sunday of the liturgical year, could renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused” (Misericordia et misera, n. 7). Pope Benedict XVI also recommended “a greater ‘biblical apostolate’... as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work” (Verbum Domini, n. 73). This stresses the importance of a personal encounter with Christ who speaks through the Bible.
Pope Francis emphasizes a personal encounter with Jesus Christ as the first requisite for the proclamation of the Gospel, saying: “unless we see Him present at the heart of our missionary commitment, our enthusiasm soon wanes and we are no longer sure of what it is that we are handing on.... A person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love, will convince nobody” (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 266). Nobody can become a missionary unless he or she experiences the love of Jesus Christ. This is because passion for mission springs from one’s personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
Inspired by the Pope’s suggestion for a Day of the Word of God, the Catholic Biblical Federation presented an official request to Pope Francis to proclaim the ‘Year of the Bible’ from the first Sunday of Advent 2019 to 30 September 2020. Three themes will run through this celebration: ‘Word and Life’, ‘Biblical Animation of Life’ and ‘Pastoral Activity of the Church’. The Catholic Church in Korea will prepare for the ‘Year of the Bible’ by practicing these themes during Biblical Week over a three year period running from 2017 until 2019.
The Bible is the foundation of evangelization: “all evangelization is based on that word, listened to, meditated upon, lived, celebrated and witnessed to” (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 174); “the Church does not evangelize unless she constantly lets herself be evangelized” (Ibid.). One’s life in community and missionary commitment lie at the heart of evangelization. To believe in the incarnation of the Son of God means to believe in God’s acceptance of all humanity. To believe in the Passion of Christ means to believe His infinite love which res
The Word of God became flesh for each one of us, and will continue to dwell among us for all eternity. “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25,40). It is said that, to help one of these least brothers is to respond to God’s boundless love and mercy, and to witness to the Word.
A personal encounter with the Lord through meditation and practice of the Gospel brings forth concrete expressions of love for our neighbours: an empathetic attitude; support and encouragement towards others; care for others in every aspect of life; missionary passion. Someone who is truly faithful never seeks only his or her own comfort and security, the faithful always endeavor to spread the Gospel through open dialogue with the world, so as to make the world a better place to live in. The world is a sacred place where Christ, the Incarnated Word, made his dwelling and sacrificed His life. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ (Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, nn. 176-183).
Even though we live different kinds of lives in different places, if we hold the same faith and listen to the Word of the Lord, we will be able to move in unity towards God. The Lord always walks with us, speaks to us, and teaches us. In other words, the Lord wishes to do everything with us. I pray that your hearts and lives may be filled with joy through Gospel meditation and personal encounter with the Lord. May the Lord Bless your life with His grace and peace! Amen.
November 26, 2017
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
Auxiliary Bishop of Busan
President CBCK Biblical Committee
Message for the 34th Caritas Sunday
Let us Restore Human Dignity in Solidarity in the Love and Mercy of the Lord!
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6,36)
“Go and do likewise” (Lk 10,37)
Beloved brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ,
We live in a time when ‘the increase in single-occupant households’ has become a widespread social trend bringing with it a change in values and new patterns of consumption. Growing individualism, resulting from such a trend, has caused other forms of social problems also: an increase in a form of isolated life-style chosen by those who seek their own comfort and well-being instead of searching for relationships with others. Such behaviour often leads to the phenomenon of dying alone. Additionally, in today’s world the great powers have encouraged isolationism by their refusal to accept migrants and refugees on the pretext of protecting their own people. In this regard, Pope Francis, in his message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, urges us “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate migrants and refugees” into our societies.
Pope Francis has criticized the extreme individualism, selfishness and indifference of our post-modern era that undermines the human dignity of the poor and the weak. He has asked us to recognize how the ‘globalization of indifference’ is gradually making us incapable of feeling compassion towards the poor and enclosing us in individualism. In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, the Pope pointed out the sad reality of today’s world: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” (n. 53).
The Pope calls on us not to turn our eyes away from the outcry of the poor! He notes that in our society ostentatious wealth has accumulated in the hands of the privileged few, often through illegal activities. He reminds us not to forget that in daily life we meet “the faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration” and “the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money” (Message for the First World Day of the Poor, n. 5). With regard to this situation, I want to highlight the fundamental truth: the human individual possesses the dignity of a person because he/she is created in the image of God (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 357)
The Pope, when he repeated the words of Jesus, ‘I was naked and you clothed me’ (Mt 25:36), obliges us not to turn our backs on the new forms of poverty and marginalization that prevent people from living lives of dignity (Apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera, n. 19).
The human community should be transformed from one where the poor and the weak are marginalized, into a genuine human community where respect for every man and woman is appreciated as the supreme value. To this end, we must not forget that openness to others and sharing with them, in particular with the poor and marginalized, both materially and spiritually, will result in an ‘integral human development’ which can bring about change in each person, community and society.
At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2016, Pope Francis urged us to be united in solidarity for human dignity and the works of mercy. He announced that the entire Church might celebrate, on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor. Because mercy is a concrete expression of love and it is capable of breaking down the walls of extreme individualism and selfishness.
The Pope continually invites us to show love and charity towards our suffering neighbors in accordance with the will of Jesus who came down to share in our vulnerability. He encourages every generation of believers, including us, to live by faith and to serve those who need our help. At the same time, he also invites all men and women of good will, regardless of religious affiliation, to share with the poor in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity.
On the occasion of the 2017 Caritas Sunday, I would like to recommend that all of you live a life of love. A fraternal relationship with our neighbors is the fundamental way of life for all true Christians who follow Jesus Christ and the gift of love. Let us commit ourselves to restoring human dignity in union with the Lord’s love and mercy. Let us not turn our backs on the invitation of the poor so as to open our hearts and the doors of our church
In this season of Advent, we are waiting for Jesus, the source of all joy, to come down and show us true love. Let us begin a journey together, a journey of both sharing what we have and building fraternal communion! Amen.
December 17, 2017
The 34th Caritas Sunday
Bishop of Chunchon and Apostolic Administrator of Hamhung President
Caritas Committee of the CBCK
Message for the 17th Week for the Sanctification of the Family (Summary)
Family, the Joy of Love
Dear brothers and sisters,
Family is based on “the intimate partnership of married life and love”, and at its heart is “authentic married love” (Cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 48). This love, fulfilled through mutual self-giving, has the power to form and sustain family. Love rooted in Jesus Christ is the basis of our lives. We were born out of love, live to love, and obtain self-fulfillment through love.
Today, however, love is seriously challenged. People prefer material benefits to the type of love which goes hand-in-hand with sacrifice. The truth is, “the number of marriages is decreasing, more and more people are choosing to live alone or simply to spend time together without cohabiting” (Amoris Laetitia, n. 33). For such people, marriage “can come to be seen as a way
Most of all, let us pay attention to those preparing for marriage. The Church does not spare her support and encouragement for those who are preparing for marriage with generosity and faithful love. The Church also shows special love and care for those in need, especially unwed single parents. They are, in fact, the ones who accept and witness to the Gospel of life despite suffering as a result of social prejudice. They are the ones who cherish and accept the divine gift of life in spite of difficult circumstances. Therefore, the Church, instead of passing harsh judgment on them, should take responsibility for accompanying, guiding and protecting such people with the merciful heart of our Father. In them, the Church finds the light which cherishes life and family, rather than the dark shadow which hangs over today’s families.
Let us pay attention to families with persons with disabilities. As Pope Francis said: “the unexpected challenge of dealing with a disability can upset a family’s equilibrium, desires and expectations … Families who lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are greatly to be admired. They render the Church and society an invaluable witness of faithfulness to the gift of life” (Ibid., n. 47).
Let us pay attention to families in extreme poverty and other difficult situations. “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25,40). One’s indifference and inhospitality towards the poor is the same as showing indifference and inhospitality towards God. We should sincerely care for and show compassion toward those who suffer from the many forms of poverty and pain.
The Church is well aware of the painful consequences of divorce, which affects the entire family. Pope Francis appeals for pastoral care especially for children of divorced parents who are “the innocent victims of the situation” (Ibid., n. 245). He also asks for pastoral care for those who are separated, divorced or abandoned, saying that they should not feel as though they have been excommunicated (Cf. Ibid., nn. 242-243). Rather than imposing strick rules on them, the Church should take care of such people with love. In such a way we can follow the Gospel and the Church may lead those in need of healing to reconciliation with God, for nothing is impossible for God.
Families, through their witness of love, can warm up the heart of society. On this occasion of the Week for the Sanctification of the Family, I hope and pray that all Christian families are able to put into practice their mission to evangelize in closer communion with each other.
December 31, 2017
On the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Auxiliary Bishop of Suwon
President CBCK Committee for Family & Life
Message for the 36th Human Rights Sunday and the 7th Social Doctrine Week (Summary)
“To the Other Towns also I Must Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God,
Because for This Purpose I Have Been Sent” (Lk 4,43)
Dear brothers and sisters,
On this occasion of the 7th Social Doctrine Week, the Catholic Church in Korea focuses on the following major social issues: social renewal, peace, and care for the socially disadvantaged.
“The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate. Thus she cannot encourage the formation of narrow ruling groups which usurp the power of the State for individual interests or for ideological ends” (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, n. 46).
This teaching resonated with us as our society went through the impeachment process of the former president, and the subsequent presidential election. The participation of citizens in the candle light protests exhibited their unwavering opposition to “the formation of narrow ruling groups which usurp the power of the State for individual interests or for ideological ends.”
Christians should pray together in solidarity in order to bring about well directed and consistent social renewal, and they should also strive to build the Kingdom of God on earth; “for the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves to be renewed” (the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, n. 3).
Christians are called to be disciples of Christ, the Master of Peace. Hence, we should work as apostles of peace everywhere and in all circumstances. This year, military tensions on the Korean Peninsula drastically escalated as a result of the development and spread of weapons as well as the increase of the arms trade.
In such a situation, we recall Pope Francis’ words stressing the importance of diplomacy and dialogue as ways to solve conflicts: “it is the perennial challenge of breaking down the walls of distrust and hatred by promoting a culture of reconciliation and solidarity. For diplomacy … is based on the firm and persevering conviction that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force” (Address of Pope Francis at the Blue House in Seoul, 14 August, 2014).
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea at its 2017 Autumn General Assembly decided on a plan by which the Catholic Church in Korea will select one socially disadvantaged group each year in order to better encourage their inclusion into society. In 2017, it was decided to highlight the plight of migrants in farming and fishing communities. Since it is the Church’s mission to protect life and human rights, the Church in Korea appeals for the protection of the unborn baby, and seeks the abolition of capital punishment. She also calls upon people to be attentive to the socially disadvantaged and accompany them in the spirit of the Gospel.
May God bless you all in this Advent and Christmas!
December 10, 2017
The second Sunday of Advent
Bishop of Daejeon
President CBCK Committee for Justice & Peace
2018 Pastoral Letters of the Diocesan Bishops
The diocesan bishops each issued their 2018 pastoral letters on the occasion of the first Sunday of Advent. In their respective pastoral letters, the diocesan bishops emphasized the practice of love.
The bishops called upon the faithful to be re-evangelized through inner renewal and by putting into practice the love of Christ. In addition, they also emphasized the need to build parish communities that share in the blessings of this Jubilee of Lay People.
In his pastoral letter entitled “Love Is the Fruit of the New Evangelization”, H.E. Andrew Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, stated, “I pray that the entire diocese may realize a fruitful life of love built on the foundation of faith.” Since the Year of Faith in 2012, Seoul Archdiocese has been making efforts to strengthen the faith through emphasizing the Word, prayer, Church teachings, and the Holy Mass all as means of encouraging the new evangelization.
The Most Rev. Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, Archbishop of Gwangju, stressed that “solidarity with the poor in our communities is the concrete practice of the Church's preferential love.” He also added, “Do not forget the Church's mission for eliminating the structural causes of poverty and for promoting an integral development with the poor.” He signaled that the years 2018-2020 will be promoted as “Years of Parish II – Community Living Together.”
The Most Rev. Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil, Archbishop of Daegu, highlighted three wishes of the Most Rev. Florian Jean Demange, the first Diocesan Bishop of Daegu, and reinterpreted them in the form of ‘Renewal and Development of the Diocese’; ‘Finding Priestly Vocations and the Formation of Priests’; ‘Parishes and Families full of the Love of God and the Joy of the Gospel’. In addition, he said, “Let’s go back to the pure and sincere heart of the early days of the Diocese”, and “Let’s promise to be faithful to the essential things in parishes, families and as individuals. Let us live with these wishes and hopes for the next three years until 2020.”
The bishops of Jeonju, Chunchon, Busan, Incheon, and Andong all called on the parishes and ecclesial communities of their dioceses to witness to their faith through evangelization and inner renewal.
The Most Rev. John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, Bishop of Incheon, set forth the year 2018 as a “Year of the Renewal of Baptismal Faith” and urged the faithful to continually renew their confession of the faith as made at the time of their baptism in their daily lives.
Both Suwon and Uijeongbu Dioceses emphasized the importance of integral pastoral ministry. The Most Rev. Matthias Ri Iong-hoon, Bishop of Suwon, said “As the world is changing and seeking more personal approaches, we need to find new ways for believers to join with and participate in integral pastoral ministry and deepen their faith.” The Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Bishop of Uijeongbu, emphasized the need of an integral pastoral approach that links all aspects of pastoral ministry and focuses on the family.
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Daejeon Diocese, the Most Rev. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Bishop of Daejeon, urged active participation in the ongoing diocesan synod. The Most Rev. Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, Bishop of Cheongju, pledged to play an active role in North Korean related issues and overseas missions, on this occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diocese. The Most Rev. Constantine Bae Ki-Hyen, Bishop of Masan, called on believers to seek God’s truth and to be holy like the Father. He also invited the priests of the diocese to stand in solidarity with the poor. The Most Rev. Basil Cho Kyu-man, Bishop of Wonju, declared the year 2018 as the “Year of Hope” and urged the faithful to place their hope in God. The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il, Bishop of Military Ordinariate in Korea, emphasized the need for an unwavering passion for military evangelization.
The titles of the pastoral letters of the respective dioceses are as follows: “New Era, New Evangelization: Love Is the Fruit of the New Evangelization” (Seoul); “People Who Live Witnessing to Faith: Let’s Proclaim the Gospel through Living by Faith, Hope and Love” (Chunchon); “Living the Diocesan Synod: Let’s Become a Community Proclaiming the Joy of Gospel” (Daejeon); “Year of the Renewal of Baptismal Faith” (Incheon); “New Way, New Mission” (Suwon); “In Hope We Were Saved” (Wonju); “Integral Pastoral Ministry: An Unfamiliar Way, but a Way for Us to Go Forward” (Uijeongbu); “New Profession, New Hope” (Daegu); “Year of Faith: Spiritual Renewal of Parish Communities through Faith, Hope and Love” (Busan); “Year of Diocesan Community Proclaiming the Gospel to the Whole World” (Cheongju); “Behold, I Take All Things New” (Rev 21,5) (Andong); “Years of Parish II – Community Living Together” (Gwangju); “New Evangelization Towards the 100th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Diocese” (Jeonju); “The Ecological Witness of Small Communities” (Cheju); “Military Evangelization with Unwavering Passion” (Military Ordinariate in Korea).
The Lives of 124 Blessed Martyrs of Korea
Francis Bae Gwan-gyeom (1740?-1800)
Francis Bae Gwan-gyeom was from Jinmok, Dangjin, Chungcheong-do (now Janghang-ri, Seokmun-myeon, Dangjin-gun, Chungnam). He was also known as ‘Baleun’ and became a Catholic soon after the establishment of the Catholic Church in Korea. His hometown, Jinmok, was in the Naepo region, where Catholicism was first introduced to Chungcheong-do.
Francis Bae was arrested in 1791 during the Sinhae Persecution. During his period of incarceration he failed to remain faithful to God, and as a result was released. On returning home, he repented his sin and started to faithfully serve the Lord anew. He moved to Seosan, but soon went to Yangje, Myeoncheon (now Yangyu-ri, Sunseong-myeon, Dangjin-gun, Chungnam) near his hometown, where he formed a Christian community with the other faithful.
Father James Zhou Wen-mo, who had arrived in Korea in 1794, began his pastoral visit to the local Catholic communities the following year. When Francis Bae, along with other Catholics, heard this news they prepared a place in Yangje village which could be used as a lecture hall. This was in the hope that he could invite a priest by the end of 1798.
During these years the Jeongsa Persecution was sweeping through the Chungcheong-do region. On October 3, 1798, when the Catholics of Yangje village had completed the above mentioned building, the police broke into the village with the aid of a secret agent.
The police immediately arrested Francis Bae and took him to Hongju. The magistrate of Hongju tortured him so as to force him ‘to report on the meeting place of the Catholics and to hand over Catholic books’. However, all of this was in vain because Francis refused to inform. Very angry at this, the magistrate reported to the governor of Gongju and the latter ordered that Francis Bae be transferred to the Cheongju military headquarters for interrogation.
In Cheongju, Francis Bae met other Catholics, including James Won Si-bo, and together they shared their sufferings. Even though his body was exhausted and his legs and arms broken, his faith in God was strong and firm. He endured his sufferings with heroic faith, but eventually the continuous beatings by the prison guards took their toll and he died as a martyr on January 7, 1800 (December 13, 1799 by the lunar calendar). Francis Bae was about 60 years of age at the time of his death.